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5IE983 – Chapters in Institutional Economics

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Topics in Economic History of Central Europe in the 19th Century

Tomáš Cvrček

Clemson University, USA

  • 10th – 21st December 2012
  • Mon Dec 10:           12.45 – 14.15            NB 350
    Tue Dec 11:             12.45 – 14.15            RB 338
    Wed Dec 12:           14.30 – 16.00           RB 338
    Thu Dec 13:            14.30 – 16.00           RB 338
    Fri Dec 14:               9.15 – 10.45             RB 338
    Mon Dec 17:           9.15 – 10.45             RB 338
    Tue Dec 18:             14.30 – 16.00          RB 338
    Wed Dec 19:           9.15 – 10.45              RB 338
    Thu Dec 20:            14.30 – 16.00          RB 338
    Fri Dec 21:              9.15 – 10.45              RB 338

Description: This course will approach the economic history of Central Europe (specifically the lands once encompassed by the Habsburg Empire) from the cliometric perspective. Cliometrics, named after the Greek goddess of history (Clio), has established itself (some fifty years ago) as a branch of historical research that seeks to bring historical statistics and economic theory into the study of economic history. We will use the available historical statistical information to place the Habsburg empire within the broader context of European industrialization, to assess the scope and scale of its relative backwardness, the growth rate, the pace of development, the impact that growth had on living standards, fertility and on other aspects of human life.


Monday, 10th Dec – Establishing the record of economic growth

What was the rate of growth of the Habsburg economy? How did it compare to the economic growth of its neighbors, rivals and competitors? How did that growth affect, and was effected by, the sectoral composition of the economy? Which regions saw fastest and which slowest growth and why?

Tuesday, 11th Dec – The changing standards of living

What kinds of measures of living standards are available to us? How did growth affect the living standards on the ground? Which groups likely benefited more than others? Which regions saw greatest/smallest improvements in living standards?

Wednesday, 12th Dec – The huddled masses: the Habsburg Empire’s labor market

What were the differences in wages between sectors? Between men and women? What about child labor? Why did it persist and why did it disappear? What were the returns to human capital?

Thursday, 13th Dec – Ever fewer babies: Habsburg Empire and the fertility transition

What is the demographic transition and how is it relevant to the Habsburg Empire? How widespread was the decline in fertility and what were the main force behind it? How did the experience of the Habsburg Empire compare to that of other countries?

Friday, 14th Dec – How to do data: a few methodological observations

What historical statistical sources are available and how can we profitably work with them? This lecture will serve as an instruction workshop on how to do the homework and prepare one’s presentation for the following Friday (21st Dec).

Monday, 17th Dec – Going to school: primary schooling and human capital accumulation

What were the main trends in school attendance and human capital production? How did the Habsburg empire compare to other countries in terms of literacy and what was that good for? What were the main forces behind the growth of education?

Tuesday, 18th Dec – The century of steam: a few observations on steam engine adoption

How far behind was the Habsburg Empire in adopting the signature technologies of the Industrial revolution? How fast or slow was that diffusion and what were the causes behind it?

Wednesday, 19th Dec – Market integration of the Habsburg Empire

What can we learn about market integration from the convergence of prices of important products? How has the market integration changed the cost of living on the ground?

Thursday, 20th Dec – The role of institutions in economic development

Given the importance of institutions in shaping economic development, what sort of institutions did Habsburg Empire have – political, economic, regulatory – and how did they impact growth? How thorough and successful was the transition of the Habsburg Empire from an agricultural feudal backwater to a modern economy?

Friday, 21st Dec – Presentations and conclusions

Present your own work with historical statistics and connect the dots with the conclusions presented by others.

Grading/evaluation: The presentations on Friday 21st will be the one and only graded item. Students will present their work to the rest of the class. The work will consist of own analysis of historical statistics of your own choice, which I will supply, together with instructions and pointers as to what is expected in the presentation. This work will either be individual or in small groups depending on the number of students in class.

Reading/references: TBA